WSU football players need to improve their act off the field

The Washington State University Cougar’s football team is leading the nation, and no, it’s not in the latest power rankings.

WSU is number one among Division 1 schools in the country with 31 arrests in the past five years (not including this year’s statistics), according to a report conducted by in 2015. Twenty-nine of these arrests have occurred since the program hired Head Coach Mike Leach.

Who’s ranked second on that list? Florida – and its arrest rate doesn’t even come close. Florida has 24 arrests in that same time frame. To give you a perspective on how large those numbers are, Thomas Clouse of the Spokesman Review states, “The 29 arrests with Leach as coach is a number that leads all NCAA Division 1 schools. In that same time frame, the Cougars have won 22 games.”

The deviances that seem to be adding up rather quickly are becoming normality here in this small, little college town of Pullman. Is this what we want to be known for? Do we want incoming freshmen and future Cougars to assume that this is how our organization defines itself? Do we want our opposing teams to judge us for the amount of arrests we have or judge us for how we play football?

Of course, one arrest is one too many and most would agree that 31 cannot be accepted. Leach argues that although the WSU’s football program has a lot of arrests, many have been a result of stronger coverage from the Pullman Police Department.

According to a group of reporters from the Spokesman Review, Leach said, “How in the world can only football players be guilty in events depicted like this … the only ones’ accused are football players. If that’s the case, then something is seriously wrong, which goes far deeper than whatever has been alleged. And whatever has been alleged is only fractionally accurate.”

Most of the arrests are minor offenses, for example in July 2012 when police arrested Travis Long for being a minor in possession and consumption of alcohol a day before his 21st birthday, or when authorities arrested Daquawn Brown in February 2014 for driving without a license. Leach believes that the Pullman Police specifically target and keep an eye on his football players.

Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins responded to Leach’s allegations by saying, “Part of the double standard I don’t allow is targeting people for what they are. That includes race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or whether they are student-athletes, council members or residents.”

Even though Leach and Jenkins don’t agree on why WSU’s football players are arrested more often than any other Division 1 Collegiate program, one thing is for sure – it’s a record that needs to be broken.

Football players, and athletes in general, represent a team, an organization, a city and in that, they should be held to a higher standard on and off the field. People look up to athletes as role models.

When police arrested Shalom Luani, Logan Tago, Robert Barber and T.J. Fehoko, fans and coaches who wanted to see those athletes play were disappointed. That being said, it’s up to the athletes to know that college football comes as a privilege and not a right.

That right can be taken away if you behave like Barber and Fehoko did when they allegedly got into a fight at a house party this summer. Barber, who has since been expelled from WSU, is appealing his expulsion while still participating in games for the Cougars.

As the WSU football continues its season, they’ll also be under a lot of pressure to keep the number of arrests to a minimum.